The NBA Finals get under way tonight (ABC, 8:30 p.m. ET). ESPN experts lay down the truth about what to expect from the Cavs-Spurs title bout.
1. Fact or fiction: This series is primarily about LeBron James.
Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: Fiction. He's the most important part, but hardly the whole story. If Tim Duncan evaporates, it's a pretty different series, right? What about if LeBron plays fairly well and San Antonio wins? And, without Cleveland's excellent defense, James won't even be in a position to maybe deliver a miracle.
Greg Anthony, ESPN: Fiction. Even if LeBron is great, others have to step up. The James "gang" has to play well -- King James needs room to operate and if the Cavs shoot 3-pointers well (42 percent in the four wins) that won't allow the Spurs' help defenders to pinch off the paint as much. The Cavs need balance offensively and great effort on the boards.
Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: Fiction. Duncan is going for his fourth ring, which could put him on equal -- if not greater footing -- than Shaquille O'Neal as the best player of this era. LeBron, of course, is a huge story, even bigger than Duncan, but we can't overlook the significance of this for the Big Fundamental's legacy.
Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: Fiction. Let's hope not. He's the most intriguing story, but hardly the only one. Can Tim Duncan cement his claim to the league's best all-time PF? Will this be the Finals Tony Parker finally makes his presence felt? Does Big Shot Bob (Horry) have one more in him? Is Daniel Gibson for real?
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Fiction. This series is about LeBron James' supporting cast. No way he gets all the openings he saw against Detroit in Game 5 -- the Spurs' defense is too good. The Spurs are going to force the Drew Goodens and Larry Hugheses of the world to beat them.
Scoop Jackson, Page 2: Fiction. From a media and fan standpoint, yes it's a fact. But from a basketball standpoint, it's all about the Spurs confirming that they are the New England Patriots of the NBA.
Tim Legler, ESPN: Fact. Let's face it, LeBron has been the primary story of the postseason. His ability to take on the NBA's best defense, and a perennial championship contender, will be the ultimate test. He has eliminated some of the doubts that people have had about his ability to take a team to this point. How well he plays will determine the outcome of the series.
Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: Fiction. No series is ever about one player. He will be the show, but it's about more than him. Like MJ and Magic before him, LeBron can't do it alone. If it's about anything, it's Duncan and the Spurs on the brink of a true dynasty.
Chris Sheridan, ESPN: Fact. Of course, no series is ever really about one single thing, but this is LeBron's graduation to the next level (four years after he left high school, coincidentally), and we're about to learn whether he's ready to become a titlist or just a finalist. All eyes are on him, not Tim Duncan.
Marc Stein, ESPN: Fact. I wanted to answer fiction, because I'm just as eager to see if Duncan can tie Shaquille O'Neal with four rings. But I'm a realist, too. If LeBron commands 98.7 percent of the overall media spotlight and focus, as expected, how can I quibble?
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Fiction. The Spurs can devote enough resources to slow James, forcing other Cavs to make shots. And don't forget Duncan, Parker, Manu Ginobili and Big Shot Bob.